Israeli president calls Ben & Jerry’s boycott ‘a new form of terrorism’

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Ben & Jerry’s boycott of “Occupied Palestinian Territories” represents “a new form of terrorism,” Israeli President Isaac Herzog said Wednesday.

“The boycott of Israel is a new sort of terrorism, economic terrorism,” the newly installed president said, according to a report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

“Terrorism tries to harm the citizens of Israel and the economy of Israel,” Herzog said. “We must oppose this boycott and terrorism in any form… It takes aim at the Israeli economy.”

The comments come one day after Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned the US company’s British owners, Unilever, that the ice cream maker’s boycott “is an action that has severe consequences” and said Israel could “take strong action.”

Bennett said those actions could include legal challenges against the company.

Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s announced Monday it would freeze sales of the popular ice cream in “the Occupied Palestinian Territory” — the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

The company said the move comes amid pushback from customers and a decision that selling their product in those areas, typically described as regions occupied by Israel since 1967, “is inconsistent with our values.”

Ben & Jerry’s said it would continue to sell ice cream in the rest of Israel.

But Bennett, in his comments Wednesday, called the decision “morally wrong.”

“There are many brands of ice cream,” he said. “But we only have one country.”

Unilever said in a statement this week that its purchase of Ben & Jerry’s in 2000 included an understanding that it would be allowed to run its own affairs.

In an email Wednesday, officials at Ben & Jerry’s declined to comment beyond its original statement regarding the boycott and the company’s values.

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